Hunter New England Health Public Health Physician Dr David Durrheim is urging community members to protect themselves and do what they can to prevent the spread of the flu.
"In the last two weeks we've had 53 confirmed influenza cases across the district bringing us to a total 148 cases to date, 101 more than the same time last year," Dr Durrheim said.
"Influenza is certainly around so it's time to take action."
Dr Durrheim said it is important to recognise that influenza is a highly contagious disease and encouraged people to be mindful of the way it spreads.
"The influenza virus is spread from person to person through infectious droplets when an infected person coughs and sneezes. It can also be spread by touching the contaminated surfaces of doors, rails and other objects," Dr Durrheim said.
"Already we have had confirmed outbreaks in an aged care facility and child care centre".
There are a number of ways you can take care of yourself this winter and protect your co-workers, friends and family from illness.
Cover your face with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then put the tissue in the rubbish bin and wash your hands.
Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap or use an alcohol hand wash.
If you experience influenza-like illness, stay at home.
"Despite winter being well and truly here, the highest influenza risk is still around the corner," said Dr Durrheim.
"It is important that high risk groups including pregnant women, people with chronic diseases including children, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders reduce their risk by getting an influenza jab."
"The vaccine is effective in preventing influenza in most people and if people do get infected, their illness is usually less severe."
The vaccine is free for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are aged 15 years or over;
anyone 6 months of age or over with chronic medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza including diabetes, asthma, heart and kidney disease; and all non-Indigenous people older than 65 years.